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Bangsamoro deal sealed

Decading in the making, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed at the grounds of Malacañan Palace on Thursday, March 27, 2014. Rhea Pauline Catada/OPAPP

MANILA, Philippines — The government under President Benigno Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday as the first step in the creation of a new region that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Government Peace Panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF lead negotiator Mohager Iqbal signed the five-page, 12-point document that seals previously agreed upon documents and annexes, namely:

  • Ceasefire Agreement of 1997
  • Agreement on Peace signed in 2001 in Tripoli
  • Declaration of Continuity of Negotiations in June 2010
  • Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities
  • Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth-Sharing
  • Annex on Power Sharing
  • Annex on Normalization
  • Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters
  • Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro

The signing was witnessed by over 1,000 people in the Palace grounds including Aquino, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process Teresita Deles.

The signed agreement is hoped to lead to lasting peace in Mindanao by making legitimate the MILF's cry for autonomy and end fighting between the rebel forces and the military.

The text contains affirmation of principles shared by both sides of the negotiations such as finding a "solution to the Bangsamoro question" and recognition and enhancements of the "rights of the Bangsamoro people."

Deles, who broke out in tears, vowed that no family will have to suffer from the ravages and dangers of armed fighting once the Bangsamoro is in place.

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Also read: MILF chief: MILF chief: Bangsamoro deal also for MNLF

"Tama na we are all tired of [war]. I new dawn has come," Deles said in a speech to open the ceremony.

"Today we embrace peace with a crushing might of a people and banished war with the power of a nation united," she also said.

Read: Deles in tears, declares 'no more war'

Murad, meanwhile, said the MILF, a breakaway of the Moro National Liberation Front, will share the "victory" with the original group.

Coronel-Ferrer had said the crafting of the documents took "18 months" and had a slow start, but eventually picked up speed.

"There is no turning back. Only moving decisively forward. The peace train is on track. Its design is complete. Most of its elements are in place," she said.

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